Fulham held Premier League Crystal Palace to a draw as they finished their pre-season programme with an encouraging performance at Craven Cottage this afternoon. Summer signing Ben Pringle caught the eye on his first appearance in SW6, shooting the Whites in front with a lovely finish from the edge of the box, but Kit Symons’ side were pegged back six minutes after the interval when Pape Souare headed in Jordon Mutch’s corner.
There were plenty of positives for Symons to take away from this fixture as he contemplates how to line up for the big kick off in Cardiff next weekend. Tom Cairney clipped the crossbar with a rising drive as this entertaining London derby entered its last quarter of an hour and Shaun Hutchinson wasn’t far away from heading the winner in the closing stages, but there were creditable cameos from all six of Fulham’s summer signings.
The Whites sprung into life after a cagey first five minutes when a slick passing move was switched to Pringle on the left. The 26-year-old did the rest, opening his body and driving an impressive low strike past Palace keeper Wayne Hennessey at his near post.
The visitors threatened on 13 minutes when Jason Puncheon forced his way to the by-line but Dan Burn’s well-executed sliding tackle stemmed the danger. New signing from Paris Saint-Germain, Yohan Cabaye hammered a shot over Lonergan’s crossbar moments later as Fulham continued to contain Palace’s attack.
Pringle caught the eye from the outset and finished off a flowing move by cutting in from the left and beating Wayne Hennessey with a superb speculative strike that crept between the Palace goalkeeper and his near post. The hosts hassled and harried the Eagles during a high-tempo start and they might have had a second when Cauley Woodrow’s pressure saw Hennessey kick straight to Pringle, who eschewed the option of a shoot and goal and saw his cross cleared away to safety.
Palace threatened fitfully with Glenn Murray off target with his only effort of the first half and Cabaye crashing a drive high over the bar as the first half came to a close. It was a different story after the restart as Palace appeared galvanised by their half-time team talk. They levelled matters just six minutes after the break with Soare soaring to power home Mutch’s corner.
Brede Hangeland, controversially released from Fulham via email last summer, then was greeted with the welcome befitting a returning hero as he came on midway through the second period and Palace pushed for another goal with James McArthur slaloming his way towards the byline but his ball in flashed dangerously right across the six yard box. There was a surprise as Symons summoned Kostas Mitroglou from the substitutes’ bench and the Greek striker – making his first appearance at the Cottage – looked lively. He almost teed up McCormack and then did set up for Cairney who nearly found the net from 25 yards with a quarter of an hour remaining.
Mitroglou then had a powerful drive blocked at source and Hutchinson headed a marvellous McCormack cross wide. Hangeland almost snatched victory for his new employers but Andy Lonergan clawed away the Norweigan’s close-range effort before Fraizer Campbell somehow failed to convert after a proper old-fashioned goalmouth scramble.
FULHAM (4-2-3-1): Lonergan; Richards, Garbutt (Voser 70), Hutchinson, Burn; O’Hara (Bodurov 89), Christensen; Cairney, Pringle (Kacaniklic 66), McCormack; Woodrow (Mitroglou 66). Subs (not used): Norman.
GOAL: Pringle (7).
CRYSTAL PALACE (4-2-3-1): Hennessey; Ward (Kelly 75), Souare, Dann, Delaney (Hangeland 58); Jedinak (Ledley 45), McArthur (Zaha 45); Lee (Gayle 75), Puncheon, Cabaye (Mutch 75); Murray (Campbell 75). Subs (not used): McCarthy.
GOAL: Souare (51).